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In less than two weeks, Rochester will be having its 14th annual Rochester Children’s Book Festival at MCC in Brighton. This year, we have the famous Jane Yolen and Mark Teague here signing their books.

The best thing about the festival is that it's FREE!

There's something there for everyone, from toddlers to adults. 
  • Learn about the creation processes these children's authors and illustrators go through to make magic on the page.
  • Bring your kids down to the Busy Bookworm Place for writing and illustration workshops where the kids themselves can create images and words on the page with authors and illustrator guidance. Kids also can visit all of the craft stations to make crafts related to books available at the festival.
  • At Read to me Corner, authors read their books to kids.
  • In the Brighton Room, learn about poetry, non-fiction, history, and photography in children's books.

Saturday, November 6, 2010
10 am to 4 pm
Monroe Community College
Brighton Campus 1000 East Henrietta

Just look at who will be there:

You can find out more information at http://tinyurl.com/2foxspr.

Day 1 of THE PLAN:

I didn't set an alarm last night because I stayed up to 2:30am. Okay, serious writing in a sleep deprived stupor just creates more work to fix when you are fully awake. So, I re-read the beginning of one of my novels and played with my characters' emotions.

I didn't plan to get up early, but of course I got a phone call. When? I'm sorry, I can't remember too much of the beginning of the conversation except that it ended with me scheduling a doctor's appointment (hopefully I wrote down the right time).

It felt like I spent most of the day directing kids: get dressed, brush your teeth, don't touch your brother, get some clothes on (this took several attempts), wash up, come eat, don't touch the walls with those hands, put on sunscreen, don't bring paper outside-I want you to do something active, stop fighting, come inside, wash up, eat over your plate, put your elbows on the table (elbows off the table=more food on the floor), don't touch the wall with those hands, come outside again, go in and dress for karate, change quicker (talking to molasses boy), put on the belt, what do you mean you left the belt at home, you're late for class-get in there, get your shoes on-we got to go, change out of your uniform, come eat, keep those messy hands above the table, change for soccer, change out of your soccer uniforms, come read a book, brush your teeth, and get in bed.

I did get a big stretch of time where the kids were playing this game they invented that actually involved math skills. While they were busy, I worked on revisions of four novel chapters and tried to get them to listen to my new beginning. What did they say? "No, we're playing our game!"

Dear Lucky Agent Contest

Attention Children's Writers

If you've written a middle grade or young adult novel, the Guide to Literary Agents is having a contest you might want to check out on their blog. Jennifer Laughran from Andrea
Brown agency is judging the contest. Check it out at http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/.

In two months, Rochester is having the annual teen book festival TBF Live.

Saturday, May 15, 2010
Nazareth College
Main entrance at Shults Center
4245 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618

Authors attending:
Laurie Halse Anderson
Holly Black
Coe Booth
Robin Brande
Kay Cassidy
Matt de la Pena
Marissa Doyle
Simone Elkeles
Ellen Hopkins
Lindsay Cibos/ Jared Hodges
Patrick Jones
James Kennedy
A.S. King
Daniel Kirk
Alisa Libby
Barry Lyga
Mari Mancusi
Lisa McMann
Ben Mikaelsen
Alyson Noel
Sarah Ockler
Amy Kathleen Ryan
Lisa Schroeder
Jennifer Smith
Terry Trueman
Vivian Vande Velde
Martin Wilson

They have a full schedule with presentations, book sales, and more. If you’re in the area, stop by and check it out.

Rochester Children's Book Festival - 2009

On November 7th, we had another great book festival this year. Thirty-nine authors and illustrators were there signing books and doing presentation. As always, parents had to drag their kids out of the festival.

My youngest even did two of the workshops. I’ll post one of his drawings from Scott Gibala-Broxholm's workshop later.

Joe "Silly" Sottile gave a poetry workshop at the book festival.

Since we had a Cub Scout commitment that evening, we weren't able to stay for the whole festival. But next year...


Okay, so my friends talked me into doing NaNoWriMo again, and I’m miserably behind in the word count. I’ve decided that I just don’t work well in the NaNoWriMo state of mine. I can’t regurgitate words that will be tossed aside once the NaNo-insanity is over. I’m one of those “revise as you go” kind of gals.


All isn’t lost though. I have started another science fiction / mystery novel, and I’m hashing out the plot. If I can get a general framework of the book’s direction, maybe the writing and revising following NaNoWriMo will go smoothly.


55,000 words of dreck in a month – I don’t think so. But I'll be insanely happy if I can cough up 35K.

What's in a Name

I've thought a lot about names lately. When you meet someone, they usually make an impression on you. Sometimes this impression creates an association of a certain personality type with a name. Have you ever heard someone tell you that a person doesn't seem like a Larry or Sally?

Well, this association sometimes carries into books. Picking a name for your characters can deeply affect how someone reads a story. In my middle grade science fiction / mystery, I played with names a bit. I showed the character traits in some of the names, but they aren't immediately evident. I used Pig Latin. The thing that hung me up the most though was the name of another alien in the novel. I've since changed it based on an agent's comment, but I'm not sure I'm in love with the new name.


Meet Debut Author Donna St. Cyr

Donna St. Cyr, Author of The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate


Donna St. Cyr, Author of The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate


Donna St. Cyr is a former teacher and school librarian in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has three wonderful children, a husband, and two faithful writing companions (her dogs). Her debut novel, The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate, was released in August 2009.


Having had a sneak peek at Donna’s book, I knew I'd love the finished story. I bought 4 copies of the novel: two for myself (one for my 9 yr old and one for me), one for a relative, and another copy for the school librarian. My nine-year-old son loved it so much, he has asked his 4th grade teacher to read it to the class. As you can tell, we are very excited about this new novel for kids ages eight and up.

Donna kindly answered some questions below.


Natisha: What sparked your ideas for The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate?

Donna: It all started with a bottle of Sprite on the school bus ….. That’s my line these days. My son found a bottle of sprite on the bus, drank it, and was ratted out by his sister. After I pitched a fit about all the terrible things that would happen to him (but didn’t), I sat around thinking about the “what if’s?” of the scenario. Then I knew that there was a story which began with a bottle of a magical elixir found on a school bus. So I started playing around with names for the elixir and I came up with Madame Gorgonzola’s Effervescent Elixir – it had such a ring to it. I knew immediately that Madame Gorgonzola was a person – made of cheese of course – and that she was in charge of some secret organization. That’s where the story began.


Natisha: Within the book, you have seamlessly integrated a great deal of mythological creatures and puzzles for your characters. What was your research process and how did you balance it with the writing?

Donna: The internet is a wondrous thing! Basically, I sketch out the story I want to tell – then I go off and do research to help me flesh out the details. I usually start at my public library, but quickly move to the internet to find information I’m looking for. For this particular story, I knew I wanted to use some creatures from classical mythologies – so I went in search of people and animals that might fit my needs before I made new ones up. I used many different mythological encyclopedia type sources in my search. As far as the riddles and puzzles go, when I decided to work the riddle theme into the book, I began to search for riddles that would make good additions to the story. I found some historical riddles that added depth to the storyline and


Natisha: What is your favorite mythological creature and why?

Donna: My favorite creature is a character I made up for the story. His name is Skylos and he’s this huge, white, Grecian sheepdog. He’s got that bossy sheepdog personality – used to corralling animals not quite as smart as he is. Anyway, Robert keeps losing things in the story and Skylos retrieves them and returns them to Robert. He makes no secret of the fact he doesn’t particularly care for Robert – he basically thinks he’s incompetent – but Skylos is actually a big, old softie – and he makes sure that Robert doesn’t go down on his watch.



Natisha: You have a knack for puzzles. Have you considered writing a companion puzzle and riddle book to go with The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate?

Donna: No, I hadn’t – but that is a good idea – I’m going to put it on my list.


Natisha: Describe your typical writing day?

Donna: Unfortunately, I don’t have a good typical day. I’m not that self disciplined. But here’s what I like to have happen on an ideal day:  I get everybody off to school and write for about 3 hours. Now, that 3 hours is more like 1 hour of writing and 2 hours of promotion activities and research (and wasting time). Then I break for lunch, run errands in the afternoon, do family things until dinner, and if I have nagging writing deadline waiting for me, write some more after dinner.


Natisha: What other children’s books would Cheese Syndicate lovin’ readers enjoy?

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians saga by Rick Riordan.

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi.

The Aretemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer.

Dulaire’s book of Greek Mythology.


Natisha: Now that you’ve had a book accepted for publication, what is your next step?

Donna: Get the sequel published and write another story.


Natisha: Do you have any advice for struggling children’s writers?

Donna: Stick with it. You have to have a thick skin and be able to take rejection. The publishing business is notoriously slow and difficult to break into and it’s not going to happen overnight. Also, get a critique group to help you refine your work. Our work is never ready when we think it is – it always needs some objective criticism to make it better.

Thank you, Donna, for graciously answering all of my questions.

The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate

Robert Montasio discovers a green glass bottle of “Madame Gorgonzola’s Effervescent Elixir” on his school bus. After his little sister Janine gulps its contents, she starts shrinking. To save her, he must join Secret Cheese Syndicate, a mystical network whose mission is to safeguard humanity from the forces of darkness and bad taste. As Robert travels the world, he races against time; Janine will continue to shrink until she’s cured. He encounters mythological beasts bent on ending his quest as he searches for the Mystic Cheese of Eliki.





Riddle me this:
Donna provided me with a free autographed copy of her book. Respond below with a riddle (different from others posted in this thread), and I'll enter you in a drawing for the free book. The contest ends October 31st, 2009. Check back on November 5th for the winner.


RACWI First Page Night

RACWI had it’s first meeting of the year, and it was first page night for writers and first glance night for illustrators. The room was packed. Keely Hutton started us off with a bang by reading the first page of her novel in progress.


It was great to hear what everyone was working on, and I pulled out a middle grade urban fantasy that has been brewing and stewing. Maybe next year, I’ll have illustrations to show.


Note to self: Do not sit at table with Robin Pulver and Will Hubbell in the future on first page nights. No offense guys, but you two are tough acts to follow.

Contest Alert - Free Book!

If you kids are between 8 and 13 and love to read, there is a contest to win a free signed copy of Donna St. Cyr's debut novel The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate at http://community.livejournal.com/classof2k9/.